Hari Om! I am so excited to introduce myself! I am Gita Zember and the new Director of Integral Yoga Teachers Association. My two daughters and I are moving to Yogaville as I take on this new role and we are very excited to be here. I think my eldest daughter has been dreaming of this day her entire life. A month ago I had no idea my life would look like this! I couldn’t imagine I would have a new job and live at the ashram! Life is amazing and wild…. So how did I get here to Yogaville?
I took my first Yoga class over 20 years ago at a doctor’s suggestion after suffering neck injuries that were not healing from a car accident. I instantly fell in love because it was nothing like the competitive life I had always lived in sports and academics. I was a young college student so I didn’t stick with it, but I never forgot it and occasionally pulled out a VHS tape and did Yoga classes in my dorm room.
While in graduate school my life changed literally overnight. I contracted Lyme disease although it wasn’t diagnosed for 10 years. I had extreme exhaustion, pain, fevers, numbness, tremors, migraines and so much more that I had to leave school. Many doctors and pills later, nothing was helping. On the internet I read how Yoga might help, so I laid on the ground and did what poses I could. In a short amount of time I began to feel some relief. I was so excited about this miracle that I wanted to share this magical gift of Yoga with others and took a Yoga Teacher Training. At the end of this training I did a report on doing Yoga with children with special needs. In researching this subject I found one book and one journal article and that was it. The book was written by Sonia Sumar and I connected with this approach to working with kids with Autism, CP, Down Syndrome and other mental and physical challenges. It took 5 years until I had the time and means to take a course with her.
I showed up to my week with Sonia Sumar (also known as Sivakami), who is a very close devotee of Swami Satchidananda, and did not know it wouldn’t be my last. I studied with her for many more trainings and instantly needed to chant as much as I could and became a kirtan leader throughout the DC, VA and MD region and creator of the DC Kirtan Festival that raises money for kids rescued from sex trafficking in India and also help rural kids in India get an education. I resonated so much with Sivakami’s teachings from Swami Satchidananda that I started to visit Yogaville and soon called everyone I met there my family. I have been visiting, leading kirtans, holding retreats and calling Yogaville my home away from home for many years now.
In the meantime I ran a small donation based Yoga yurt studio teaching meditation, hatha Yoga, the Yoga sutras, kirtan and focused a lot on seva and connecting with others in community. I was a one woman show and took care of everything from scrubbing the toilets, to teaching, the website, social media, to doing the accounting. I am so excited that these experiences have helped prepare me to take on this role of Director here at IYTA because it really is a job that needs a jack of all trades! It will take some time, but I have a lot of ideas. I hope to start with my strengths of building community and connecting. I want you to feel like this is YOUR family too. So from me to you! WELCOME!
As part of the IYTA family know that you are welcome to staff here at Yogaville at the various programs in the Integral Yoga Academy. You will have room and board in exchange for your seva to other Integral Yogis while having the opportunity to spend time here with Sangha at Yogaville. Please contact Sita Rose at [email protected] to learn more and click here to fill out an application to volunteer.
In the coming months as I settle in please feel free to contact me with suggestions and ways you can envision the IYTA to serve you better at [email protected].